Review

Money to Burn

by James Grippando

It’s easier to hang an innocent man than it is to catch a
thief.

As current as today's headlines, MONEY TO BURN takes place just
as Bernie Madoff’s Ponzi scheme is coming to light. Brokers
and investors alike are scampering for the exits as Wall
Street’s biggest money houses fail. Michael Cantella, a Wall
Street Whiz Kid, is the manager/broker of one of the biggest
investment houses in the world when he finds himself in the
headlines as a publicly reviled robber baron of Wall Street. News
stories have him taking down not only his clients, his family and
his brokerage house, but also his own personal fortune.

This earth-shattering news is delivered to Michael via his
ever-present BlackBerry on his 35th birthday. His net worth --- his
entire seven-figure portfolio, which he checks regularly on his
computer --- suddenly shows a big fat ZERO. An after-hours trade
made neither by him nor his portfolio manager, but by an
unidentifiable Internet transaction, shows that all of his assets
have been transferred to an offshore numbered account. And the
evidence points directly at him. The records show that the
transaction was made on Michael’s computer via his personal
account password while he was enjoying the lavish surprise birthday
party given by his wife at the Pierre Hotel in Manhattan. His
digital fingerprints are all over it, and he can’t prove that
he didn’t make the transfer.

Within 48 hours Michael learns that he is losing not only his
job, his home, his credit standing and every other asset he owns,
but also all of his bank accounts and his wife. He is left
literally on the streets with the shirt on his back after his wife
locks him out of their Manhattan luxury apartment. Within hours,
the news of his stock dump hits the news, and cable TV financial
pundits have a heyday. He soon learns that when a rumor that just
might be true goes viral, it circles the globe within hours.
Repeated often enough, it becomes a fact in the minds of those who
wish to turn it to their advantage. By Monday morning, Wall Street
reacts as only that institution of herd-instinct players knows how
--- like lemmings, they move to divest his brokerage firm from
their portfolios, driving the company to ruin. His face and name
are blasted all over the cable networks and newspapers as the
pariah of Wall Street.

Michael slowly comes to realize that he has created a formidable
and deadly enemy of someone who got burned when he made a crucial
financial decision in 2003. A chance encounter with a Miami cab
driver while he was on his honeymoon with his first wife, Ivy, had
opened their eyes to the incongruity of NINA (No Income, No Assets)
mortgage loans. The cabbie was proudly pointing out the high-end
waterfront condos he owned and crowing about how he had borrowed
the money with no money down and was making millions by reselling
them as prices inflated, seemingly without end. When Ivy vanishes
mysteriously on their wedding night and is later declared dead, he
loses himself in his career, but hastily divests himself of any
personal holdings involved with the NINA loans and advises his
clients to do the same. Who had the most to lose when he removed
the money-making scheme from the firm? Who would want to ruin
him?

His betrayal begins with the disappearance of his bride, and
ends up involving every friend and colleague he thought he had,
including a high school sweetheart he later marries. When a murder
and kidnapping are blamed on Michael, he finds himself on the run.
With only his grandfather and an estranged brother, an attorney who
reluctantly agrees to help, to turn to, Michael discovers who he
can and cannot trust, but not until nearly losing his life.

Author James Grippando writes with the authority of one who
understands the details and theories behind short-selling stocks
and upside-down mortgages, terms we have been hearing since the
bubble burst and that caused the government bailout that rescued
the world’s largest insurance companies and banks from
collapse. Phrases that have become household terms come to life as
Michael starts to sort out the mess his life has become.

MONEY TO BURN is a non-stop page-turner with twists and turns
that keep you guessing right until the end.

Reviewed by Roz Shea on January 24, 2011

Money to Burn
by James Grippando

  • Publication Date: February 1, 2011
  • Genres: Fiction, Thriller
  • Mass Market Paperback: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Harper
  • ISBN-10: 0061556319
  • ISBN-13: 9780061556319